Jenny Seymour one of CAFOD Hallam’s school volunteers recently took the children of St Thomas of Canterbury on a journey of solidarity with refugees and their messages of hope were truly inspirational
I was lying on my bed the other night watching the fabulous new documentary series by Reggie Yates – the Insider. This week was a particularly moving documentary about life inside the largest refugee camp in Iraq, just across the Syrian border. Reggie Yates visits the Middle East to spend a week living and sleeping in the largest refugee camp in Iraq alongside 30,000 Syrian refugees. Since the war in Syria first began, nearly 11 million people have fled their homes in search of safety. The news has been dominated by those trying to cross into Europe, but some five million people ended up in refugee camps and, for some, this has become a new way of life (there was one poignant moment when one of the refugees takes Reggie up on a hill where they can see their beloved Syria and the poor girl couldn’t look as it made her too sad – longing for her old home back). For others, they continue their perilous journey to Europe.
Whilst watching it, it made me realise how the work we do within schools for CAFOD is so important. The schools team for CAFOD have written a beautiful and thought-provoking workshop which takes children on a pilgrimage considering some of the issues that refugees have to face and the reasons that refugees start on their potentially perilous journey. The pilgrimage is inspired by the events that took place on the small Mediterranean island of Lampedusa in October 2013, but raises some current issues.
At the end of this journey of solidarity, the children are asked to write their messages of hope for refugees around the world today. Originally, these messages were offered up at a mass for refugees at the end of the Year of Mercy, but messages written this year are being hand delivered to refugees within the UK. The results are truly inspirational and it is heart-warming to see that these children truly empathise with the refugees on their journey.
Schools and parishes are still able to take part in the Lampedusa pilgrimages led by your school or parish volunteer. Please contact your schools volunteer or the CAFOD Hallam Office to book your visit.